For 18-year-old Sam Tageson, all he ever wanted to do was play hockey… and last night, his wish came true. The San Jose Sharks, working with the Make-A-Wish foundation, signed the 18-year-old Tageson to a one-day contract to make his wish come true. Tageson has a heart condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition that prompted doctors to tell his parents that he would never be able to ride a bike or roller-skate in his lifetime. Tageson, however, time and time again has proven the doctors wrong.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, also known as HLHS, is a rare and complex heart defect that babies can be born with. Hypoplastic is a term that describes the structures on the left side of the heart as too small and/or underdeveloped. In children with HLHS, the underdeveloped structures of the left side of the heart are too small to pump enough red blood flow for the body to function effectively. In the first three years of life, all children diagnosed with HLHS will have to go through three major surgeries aimed at enabling the right ventricle to do the work of both the right and left ventricles. As the child grows up in to his/her teen years, their relationship with their cardiologists will be forever close. Cardiologists and the families of kids with HLHS will have to monitor physical and activity levels as complications moving forward can include abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), blood clots, and possible heart failure. Sam Tageson, however, is proving to be a rare breed when it comes to physical activities.
Speaking to the Mercury News out of San Jose, Sam Tageson’s mother, Lisa Mills, had this to say about Sam and his syndrome:
“It’s supposed to be debilitating. They said he would be the child that would never ride a bicycle, never do any of that. He rides a skateboard. He plays hockey.”
Sam is a real success story in the face of a very real debilitating disease. The day with the San Jose Sharks began with Sam meeting General Manager Doug Wilson followed by Sam being able to participate in a team practice. Sam, who usually plays goaltender, was able to skate and practice shooting on back-up goaltender Alex Stalock. For the game against the Florida Panthers last night, Tageson was also able to skate out of the “Shark Head” during the introduction of the team and was also able to stand on the blue-line with the starting line-up during the singing of the National Anthem.
The San Jose Sharks truly did make an amazing wish come true for an amazing 18-year-old in Sam Tageson. Sam’s night ended as his amazing character and emotions shined through when the San Jose Sharks organization and fans honored the 17-year-old with a standing ovation, prompting a truly heart-warming wave and sob goodbye. How did Sam feel about his wish coming true? To simply put it, Sam had this to say to reporters: “(There is) No way to top today.”
Commentary by Ryne Vyles